One of my all-time favorite Disney movies is The Lion King. This should surprise no one; I am a crazy cat lady and lions are cats. My favorite song was “Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase. Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze. It means no worries for the rest of your days.” Come on. You know you want to sing it with me. 🙂 I love the idea of a worry-free life. One where I’m not constantly gripped with anxiety and that trickle of fear no longer seeps into my every thought and action. But … I’m also realizing a worry-free life really isn’t possible. Nor is that a bad thing either.
Like most people, I am a walking contradiction. I’m brave. I’m scared. I’m kind. I’m cruel. And so on. It becomes its own balance, which is good. But right now, I have no balance against my anxiety. Depression ground my no-worry vibes to dust, leaving me as helpless as a newborn against the onslaught of doubt, despair, unworthiness and uncertainty that stains my consciousness and choices.
The High Cost of Anxiety
This is also uncharted territory for me. Everyone experiences anxiety, but it has never been where I begin. Now it is my constant companion. And I hate it. It is a dream killer and a life ender, because it is hard to chase dreams and enjoy life when anxiety inhales all your joy, confidence and faith, leaving behind dread, worry and fear.
My anxiety has taken years of my life and dreams. This needs to end. Life is too short to spend it curled into an indecisive, pathetic ball of misery. At the same time, I also recognize the idea of a worry-free life has seduced me and lured me into its trap. It would certainly be nice if every single day was rainbows and lollipops but that is Hollywood magic, not real life. And when you pursue what doesn’t exist, you set yourself up for constant disappointment. The very nature of life means there will be worries. And hurts. And pain. That’s living.
And I want to live. Mindfully.
3 Tips To Reduce Anxiety and Take Back Control
Here’s how I’m giving anxiety the boot:
I am one anxious knot, but I am also extremely resistant to my anxiety. It’s like an evil invader that I must battle. But should I? Certainly constant anxiety is not good. Nor is allowing my anxiety to prevent me from living. But just like Simba learned in The Lion King, a worry-free life isn’t so grand either. Sometimes resistance just makes things worse because you’re battling without necessarily understanding why you’re fighting. It’s war for the sake of war. The better response is to accept that I am feeling anxious AND learn why. It’s the why that will give me an actual enemy to vanquish because anxiety itself is not the bad guy.
Be in the Moment
When I feel panicky or uneasy, I find switching gears and being in the moment can help minimize the pressure on me. Because when we are at our most anxious we are often lost in concerns about “what if” or in future worries. Getting back to the present can help ground us. Ask yourself: What do you need to do this minute, this hour, this day to feel at peace? I’m not suggesting you adopt a #YOLO mindset, but to live purposefully in the moment. What is the best use of my time? What would make me happy (within reason and budget) this moment? What do I need (in terms of self-care) right now? Allow yourself to relax so that you can tackle whatever you need to do from a place of serenity and strength versus dread and fear.
Don’t Believe the Lies
Depression and anxiety are playground bullies who will fill your head with lies if you let them. They will tell you, repeatedly, that you are stupid. Weak. Unworthy. Talent-less. And you will fall for these lies if you are not careful. Simba laughed in the face of danger and you should laugh in the face of your anxiety. I’m in no way suggesting anxiety is a joke; it’s not. Trust me, I know this. But you need to find a way minimize its power over you. And every bully hates to be laughed it and anxiety is no different. Laughter helps me see the lies. Figure out what helps you see the lies too.
Anxiously Awaiting to Bid Anxiety Adieu
My good friend, Depression, has so kindly gifted me with this never-ending bout of anxiety. I tried to return it, but they were firm on their no-return policies. Bastards. But I am also smart and wily. Anxiety doesn’t have to rule my life. While some days are still a struggle, I figured out what helps reduce its stranglehold on me. If you suffer from anxiety, whether depression related or not, I hope these tips also help you manage your anxiety. You can beat this. We can beat this.
Do suffer from anxiety? What helps you overcome and move forward?